What are the Different Types of Residential Water Filtration?

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  • Written By: T. Raleigh
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 02 November 2019
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Many cities have water treatment facilities to clean the harmful material from the local water supply. This process, however, usually involves adding chemicals to the water, which aren’t always desired. Many people use their own residential water filtration to remove the chemicals and any lingering impurities. Available systems range from small to large scale and fall into five basic categories: pitcher, faucet, shower, under the sink or inline, and whole house.

For smaller scale residential water filtration, the pitcher style is often a convenient choice. This filter system is generally used for eliminating debris and minimizing chemicals in drinking water. Most pitcher water filters use an active carbon filter, a mechanical filter, or some combination of both.

The pitcher filter comes in a variety of sizes and the initial cost is usually more economical than larger whole-house systems. The replacement filter cost over the life of the pitcher’s use can make these systems as costly as other residential water filtration systems, however. Some of the higher-end models let the user know when a filter change is needed. In most of these systems, water fills a reservoir and runs through the filter into the pitcher.


Both the shower and the faucet style filter attach directly to the tap. The faucet style is geared more for the kitchen, to purify any water intended for drinking or cooking. Most of these filters have the option to be turned off or on at the faucet. A shower filter is attached directly behind the showerhead, allowing the user to bathe in water that contains fewer chemicals or impurities. Both filters work by filtering the water coming directly from the pipes just before it reaches the faucet.

Under the sink, or inline, residential water filtration works in a similar way, as the water passes through the filter before reaching the faucet; however, these filters are generally located under a cabinet or are otherwise concealed. Only one faucet at a time will be filtered with this type of system. Usually, under the sink systems are able to handle more water than a pitcher or faucet style system before the filter needs to be replaced.

In some situations, it is important to filter all the water coming into a home. This is especially true if the water source isn’t treated, like that from a well. The whole house system provides quick filtration to every water source in the residence. While some of the other forms of residential water filtration can slow the flow of water, these systems are designed to provide filtered water seamlessly.

Filtration purposes can vary from simply ensuring the water is thoroughly safe to improving the taste by removing trace elements and chemicals. Many of these styles of filtration use one or more stages of mechanical and active carbon to clean and polish the water. Reverse osmosis systems are also offered for inline and whole house systems, and ultraviolet disinfection is gaining popularity as well.



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